Director(s): Zack Snyder
Writer(s): Chris Terrio
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa
Synopsis: Zack Snyder’s definitive director’s cut of Justice League. Determined to ensure Superman’s ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne aligns forces with Diana Prince with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League (2017) is one of my least favorite movies I have ever seen, and Zack Snyder has never managed to fully captivate me with any of his movies. So, it is safe to say that Zack Snyder’s Justice League had a pretty tall hurdle to jump to earn my appraisal. However, just like any other film, I went into this one with a clear mind and tried to view it as a completely original film.
While I don’t think the film is perfect by any means, it managed to do something that the 2017 version never once did, excite me. As a comic book fan and a comic book movie fan, it was exciting to see a real story involving these heroes. Nothing was played up for effects or played down to a confusing point, it all flowed along in a much better way than the original. While I don’t think Snyder is the best at displaying his vision on screen, I think he has a good understanding of where his stories want to go and how to get there. There was a real sense of care and heart that was put into making this film that you just didn’t see in the 2017 version. For Snyder, this film meant something more, and it showed.
Almost everything Snyder wanted to fix, in some miraculous way he did it and the movie worked, which isn’t something you can say about the original. The emotional beats were emotional, the action was exciting, the stakes felt real. I was able to actually feel something from this movie, instead of leaving with an empty pit of nothingness that the first one gave me. There was a sense of life within this film that we never got with the original and it felt refreshing to see this play out with some oomph to it.
But, even though Snyder was able to make an exciting film, the movie was still massively flawed, mainly in the direction. Some directing choices Snyder makes left me either in a cringe ball or had me scratching my head wondering why the scene happened the way it did. I believe that Snyder has a great vision for his characters, but I have never quite enjoyed the way he presents them on screen. This movie is told in 6 parts, and the first 3 parts of the film all include some egregious slow-mo shots that really disrupt the pacing of the film in the beginning, slowing it down and left me confused. It seemed like every time a new character was introduced there would be some melodramatic song included with a weird slow-motion take. Then there were some interesting musical choices that really were cringeworthy with when and how they were played on screen. There seemed to be an attempt at a heightened dramatic effect that fell so flat and became so uninteresting after the first instance, let alone the 5th.
However, for all of the weird “Snyder-isms” that were added, most of them were able to be overlooked because, frankly, I was having fun. I was enjoying myself in a way I never did for the 2017 version. This movie moved and flowed much better than I ever could have expected. Which for being a 4-hour film, the movie was paced pretty well actually, as most of the time really flew by. By part 3 of this film, it really began to find its own footing and I was able to fully forget what happened in the 2017 version and watch this as something new.
The ability for Snyder to take something established, make it longer, and still differentiate it enough from the already established film is miraculous. Scenes that were in the 2017 version that caused me to groan were pretty exciting in this one, and I was able to enjoy certain moments that I just couldn’t in the original. You could tell that Snyder really had a vision of what he wanted to do, and it was nice seeing something he cares so much about displayed on the screen. I was able to see this movie as a completely new project and disassociate it with Justice League (2017) completely. For me, that was the one thing Snyder needed to do to win me over, and he did it.
But when the piano began at the end of the film and a large FOR AUTUMN appeared on the screen, you couldn’t help but feel emotional for the journey that Zack Snyder has gone on. What Snyder had to endure is something that no parent is ever prepared for, and to see his vision fall apart during such a difficult time must have been a truly heartbreaking experience for him. He made this film for the fans that had been clamoring for it for years, for his daughter, and for himself in a way that proves he could do it. While this film isn’t perfect, it’s his, and I hope he can be proud of the fact he made an enjoyable and exciting superhero film.
Final: Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t perfect but it’s a thrilling, exciting, and fun film nonetheless. Snyder’s vision is a flawed, but enjoyable one that should satisfy Snyder fans, DC fans, and comic book fans alike. It is able to find its own footing apart from the 2017 version and it’s miraculous that this 4-hour epic is able to work this well.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.